The command of the US Marine Corps announced a tender for the development of deck unmanned aerial vehicles, which it is planned to start using on land by 2025, and on ships – by 2028. According to Flightglobal, the program was called MUX. Three American companies are expected to take part in the tender: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter.
New drones in service with the US Marine Corps will have to perform several tasks: early warning, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, retransmission of signals and air support. The military believes that the new vehicles will complement the capabilities of the deck heavy helicopters CH-53K King Stallion, the MV-22 Osprey converters, and the F-35B Lightning II fighters.
According to the requirement of the American Marines, the combat radius of the new deck-based drones should be from 350 to 700 nautical miles (648 to 1296 kilometers) with payload. The cruising speed of drones should be from 200 to 300 knots (370-555 kilometers per hour).
Complete operational readiness (the completion of the delivery of all ordered by military vehicles and their acceptance into combat duty), new drones should reach by 2034.
Earlier it became known that within the tender the company Lockheed Martin together with Piasecki Aircraft intends to develop a modular unmanned platform ARES. It is an envelope with a wingspan of 12.5 meters and two rotary fans with a diameter of 2.4 meters each. The maximum takeoff weight of the unmanned platform is 3.2 tons.
The device will be able to fly at speeds of up to 170 knots at an altitude of up to 6.1 thousand meters. The combat radius of the UAV will be up to 324 kilometers. A modular payload bay will be able to accept various systems weighing up to 1.4 tons. It is assumed that the unit will be able to install a cargo module, a module with reconnaissance and surveillance systems, as well as weapons systems.
In turn, Northrop Grumman intends to offer the US Marines an unmanned steelster, a vertical takeoff aircraft with a tail landing. The device, with a length of just over 12 meters, will be able to carry loads of up to 226 kilograms up to 1.1 thousand kilometers. Northrop Grumman is considering the possibility of installing on the apparatus and suspension points for armament.
Finally, Bell Helicopter intends to create an unmanned convertible V-247 Vigilant. The weight of the empty device will be 7.3 tons. The drone can carry fuel, useful and combat load with a total mass of up to 5.9 tons. The wing span of the V-247 will be 19.8 meters, and the diameter of the propellers – 9.1 meters. For special equipment, including reconnaissance, the convertor will receive three compartments.